HOW MUCH someone gets paid is usually something you want to ask about but for etiquette reasons, can't. So it makes for interesting reading when someone else breaks the taboo and we get to see how much other people rake in.
The list compiled from various sources puts Oracle's sailing enthusiast, Larry Ellison on top of the pile while Apple's saviour and fanbois' favourite, Steve Jobs makes the list at dead last. Somewhere in between we find the usual suspects of Ballmer, Dell, Hurd, Otellini and Meyer all in the top 10.
Perhaps surprisingly, it is Microsoft's shy and soft-spoken CEO Steven Anthony Ballmer who squeaks onto the list with a base salary of just $665,883. This was topped up rather generously with a $600,000 bonus despite Microsoft issuing its first full-year fall in revenue and profit. The total package Ballmer got was worth around the $1.4 million mark. Don't feel too bad for the guy though, he's still got an estimated worth of over $11 billion, twice that of Steve Jobs.
Tin box flogger Michael Dell comes in just after Ballmer with a base salary of $931,731. Clearly Dell the company is feeling the pinch as Dell the CEO's pay is down from the $950,000 he was awarded in 2008. However the total package was worth somewhat more than that princely sum. The report found that $1.2 million was made up of compensation with regards to his expenses including personal and residential security.
While many of the list's incumbents are relatively anonymous, two clearly stand out. Dirk Meyer, head of chip design firm AMD, managed to get a salary similar to that of Dell but topped that up with a $45,000 bonus and $3.7 million worth of stock options.
Bear in mind that AMD's figures weren't all that great once Chipzilla's one-off payment totaling $1.25 billion to the chip designer is subtracted. Nevertheless, few will claim that Meyer has an easy job on his hands cleaning up the mess left behind by former CEO Hector Ruiz, but considering the compensation he is receiving, few will feel particularly sorry for him either.
On the other hand, Chipzilla's Paul Otellini did well for himself, rucking up in seventh place with a total package worth $14.4 million. Although the firm itself did poorly, seeing a double digit drop in profit for 2009, Otellini helped himself to a $5.3 million bonus on top of his $1 million basic salary. Chipzilla was clearly in a giving mood, providing him with almost $8 million in stock options.
Long term Intel executives and management have a history of building up their stock in the firm, with many going into early retirement with the knowledge that their options will feed them in their twilight years. In the past decade or so Intel's share price hasn't been doing all that well, but nevertheless many still hold out for the day that INTC will hit $40 and a mass retirement can take place.
HP, using the proceeds from flogging expensive ink, gave CEO Mark Hurd $24.2 million in 2009 with a eye watering $15.8 million coming from bonuses. Although HP stood firmly in pole position in desktop and laptop sales, the company saw both sales and profit fall. Perhaps the fact that Hurd actually saw a 29 per cent drop in the value of his compensation package will appease the firm's rank and file.
However Hurd, Otellini, Dell and the rest are mere also-rans when compared with facial hair and sailing enthusiast, Larry Ellison. The CEO of Oracle not only managed to win the Americas Cup using an iffy boat but raked in an astonishing $84.5 million during 2009. Oracle defied others in the industry by posting growth figures in 2009, albeit modest, and surprisingly Ellison took a $100,000 pay cut.
The massive payout feeds Ellison's penchants for beach front property, Japanese gardens and super yachts. While most of the $84.5 million is made up of stock options, Ellison still brought in a very respectable $4.6 million in cash, which should see that his five kids don't go hungry.
So what about the fruit themed toymaker? Steve Jobs is known for his penny pinching when it comes to the products his firm sells, but surely a $1 salary isn't the real deal. Well, the man in the black T-shirt isn't doing all that bad for himself, since he's worth around $5.5 billion, including being the single largest shareholder of Disney after selling Pixar to the ailing theme park and movie company in 2006.
In the past Apple's board has been fairly charitable to the man who founded and eventually saved the firm from self destruction by giving him treats such as a Gulfstream V jet.
What all this goes to show is that no matter how much you think you're making there's always a CEO who is doing a lot better. The recession may have hit most common folk where it hurts but these CEOs certainly aren't about to start shopping at Poundland anytime soon. µ